Russia hits Kyiv as Western leaders meet in Europe – Twin Cities

By OLEKSANDR STASHEVSKYI

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia shattered weeks of relative calm in the Ukrainian capital with long-range missiles fired toward Kyiv early Sunday, an apparent show of force by the Kremlin as Western leaders gather in Europe to bolster their military and economic support of Ukraine.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the missiles hit at least two residential buildings, and President Volodymr Zelenskyy said a 37-year-old man was killed and his 7-year-old daughter and wife were killed. injured. Associated Press reporters witnessed rescuers battling the flames and saving civilians.

The strikes also damaged a nearby kindergarten, where a crater carved out the yard. US President Joe Biden called the attacks “barbaric” after arriving in Germany for a Group of Seven summit.

Later on Sunday, a local official reported a second death, telling the Unian news agency that a railway worker had been killed and several others injured in the attacks while maintaining railway infrastructure.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ignat said the first successful air-launched weapons to target the capital since June 5 were Kh-101 cruise missiles fired from warplanes above the Caspian Sea, more than 1,500 kilometers (932 miles).

Kyiv’s mayor told reporters he thought the airstrikes were “perhaps a symbolic attack” ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid that begins on Tuesday. A former commander of US forces in Europe said the strikes were also a signal to the leaders of the G-7 countries meeting in Germany on Sunday.

“Russia says, ‘We can do this all day. You are powerless to stop us,” said retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, former commanding general of US Army Forces Europe. “The Russians humiliate the leaders of the West.”

G-7 leaders were about to announce the latest in a long line of international economic measures aimed at pressuring Russia and isolating it in its war in Ukraine: new bans on imports of Russian gold. Along with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, host of the three-day meeting, Biden said of the missile strikes on Kyiv: “It’s more their barbarism.”

Zelenskyy, speaking in his nightly video address, called on G-7 leaders to get more help, saying stopping Russian aggression ‘is only possible if we get everything we ask for , and in the timeframe we need – weapons, financial support and sanctions”. against Russia.

A member of the Ukrainian parliament, Oleksiy Goncharenko, wrote on the Telegram messaging app that preliminary information indicated that Russia had launched 14 missiles towards the capital region and Kyiv itself. Zelenskyy said some were intercepted and he vowed revenge on “all the pilots, dispatchers, technicians and others who ensure the launch of missiles in Ukraine”.

“We will find you all. Each of you will be responsible for these beatings,” Zelenskyy swore. “And if anyone thinks they’ll escape responsibility by saying it was an order, you’re wrong. When your missiles hit houses, it’s a war crime. The courtyard is what awaits you all. And you will not hide anywhere – neither on the shores of the Caspian Sea, on which your missiles are launched, nor in Belarus … Nowhere.

In a phone interview, retired US General Hodges told The Associated Press that Russia has a limited stockpile of precision missiles and that “if they use them, it will be for a particular purpose” .

Russia has denied targeting civilians during the 4-month war, and Hodges said it was unclear whether the missiles launched on Sunday were intended to hit apartment buildings.

Russian forces attempted to take control of Kyiv early in the war. After Ukrainian troops pushed them back, the Kremlin largely shifted its focus to southern and eastern Ukraine.

Russian rocket fire in the town of Cherkasy, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Kyiv, left one dead and five injured, regional governor Ihor Taburets said on Sunday.

To the east, Russian troops fought to consolidate their gains as they fought to swallow the last remaining Ukrainian stronghold in Luhansk province. Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai said on Sunday that Russia was carrying out intense airstrikes on the town of Lysychansk, destroying its TV tower and badly damaging a road bridge.

“There is a lot of destruction. Lysychansk is almost unrecognizable,” he wrote on Facebook.

For weeks, Lysychansk and the nearby city of Sievierodonetsk have been the subject of a bloody and destructive offensive by Russian forces and their separatist allies aimed at capturing the entire eastern region of Donbass in Ukraine.

They have made steady and slow progress, with Haidai confirming on Saturday that Sievierodonetsk, including a chemical plant where hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians were locked up, had fallen.

Commenting on the Battle of Sievierodonetsk, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday evening that separatist forces backed by Russia and Moscow now control not only the city, but also the villages surrounding it. He said the Russian military thwarted an attempt by Ukrainian forces to turn the Azot chemical plant into a “stubborn center of resistance”.

Capturing Lysychansk would give Russian and Separatist forces control of all of Luhansk’s major settlements. Last I heard, they controlled about half of Donetsk, the second province of Donbass.

On Saturday, Russia launched dozens of missiles at several areas across the country away from the heart of eastern battles. Some of the missiles were fired by Russian Tu-22 long-range bombers deployed from Belarus for the first time, Ukraine’s air command said.

Reacting to the shelling by Russian bombers, Zelenskyy called on the Belarusian people to resist cooperation with the Russian military. “Russian leaders want to drag you – all Belarusians – into war, want to sow hatred between us,” he said in his video address on Sunday. “You can refuse to participate in this war. Your lives belong only to you, not to someone in the Kremlin.

Belarus hosts Russian military units and was used as a staging ground before Russia invaded Ukraine, but its own troops did not cross the border. In a meeting on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko that Russia planned to supply Belarus with the Iskander-M missile system.

On the economic front, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said banning Russian gold imports would represent a significant escalation in sanctions.

“It is Russia’s second most lucrative export after energy.” Blinken told US news channel CNN. “It’s about $19 billion a year. And most of it is in the G-7 countries. So cutting that, denying access to about $19 billion in revenue a year, that’s important.

Russia is set to default on its foreign debt for the first time since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, further alienating the country from the global financial system following international sanctions imposed over its war in Ukraine.

The country faces a Sunday night deadline to meet a 30-day grace period on interest payments originally due on May 27. But it might take time to confirm a fault.

Russia calls any default artificial because it has the money to pay its debts, but says the sanctions have frozen its foreign currency reserves held abroad.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the Russian-Ukrainian War at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine